Merlin’s First Quarter Review
Wow, a 4-0 quarter. Unexpected, joyful, but there are troubling signs under the glitter of being the last undefeated team in the NFL. It’s time for the first quarter review.
Game one, New England, on the road, national TV audience, Super Bowl banner being raised. To date, Tom Brady is 102-19 at home. That includes the loss to the Chiefs. That’s a loss percentage of a little over 18%. Simply put, it was a statement win by the Chiefs. It thrust the Chiefs firmly in the playoff picture and Super Bowl conversation. Then there was the matter of having the heart and soul of the defense ripped out of the Chiefs for the season. Hopefully, it will not prove to be a pyrrhic victory.
Game two, home opener against the Eagles. Another tough game, another man down. This time, Mitch Morse. Game three, the Chargers, Dee Ford goes down. Game four, LDT goes down. None of those three players are back as of this writing.
What have we learned?
The Chiefs are for real. This is a team that deserves to be in the Super Bowl conversation. Good teams finish games well and the Chiefs have owned the 4th Quarter.
Kareem Hunt is for real. He has been nothing short of spectacular. Like the Chiefs, he is better in the second half than the first. He just doesn’t go down often on first contact. Hunt is a treat to watch.
Alex Smith is playing about as well as you can expect him to play. He is being a bit more aggressive pushing the ball downfield. His running has saved the day. His pass on the run to Albert Wilson on the game winning drive against Washington was a thing of beauty.
The offensive line has struggled in pass protection. Granted, they were going against some very good pass rushers, but they are giving up far too much pressure.
Speaking of pressure, the defense is not generating enough consistent pressure. The absences of Dee Ford and Tamba Hali are being felt.
Andy Reid is ahead of the offensive curve. His emphasis on versatile offensive weapons (Kelce, Hill, and Hunt) has enabled him to use a lot of different looks and lots of motion to really confuse a defense. Defenses have a very hard time preparing for the Chiefs.
Taking a Look Ahead
The schedule alternates between away and home games. At the Texans is followed by a home date against the Steelers. Then the Chiefs Go to the Raiders on a short week. It’s one of those pathetic Thursday night games. Really NFL? You are not making enough money? Thursday night games are brutal on players and ought to be banned. When it come to money versus player health, bet on money every time. Then the Chiefs get a long break. It’s a home Monday night game with the Broncos. Andy Reid does very well when he had some extra time to prepare for an opponent. Bet on the Chiefs there. The Raider game will depend on the availability/effectiveness of David Carr. The Texans look tough and the Steelers always are. Both those games could be important for playoff seeding.
Enough Causes for Concern
The first has to be attrition. As deep as the Chiefs are, they can’t afford to keep losing starting players each game.
Kareem Hunt staying effective. As great as Hunt has been so far. I have some major concerns going forward. Rookies tend to hit a wall later in the season. They are not used to the longer NFL season. Hunt takes a pounding as he stays on his feet and his workload has been high. This is not a recipe for late season success. The Chiefs need to reduce his workload a bit and keep him effective during the whole season.
Offensive line effectiveness. Parker Ehinger is needed back ASAP. Getting the Chiefs line back healthy is very important. I have criticized Zach Fulton many times, but he is filling in well at Center.
The Chiefs have to generate more pressure. Is this time for some Kpass action? Will Sutton start to dial up more blitzes?
That’s my take on things. Sound off in the comments and Go shovel pass!
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